Disasters just don’t happen without warning; there are critical chains of events that occur that lead up to the catastrophe itself. The Burning Sea is the fourth major disaster flick to hail from Norway, and once again, this movie proves that the Norwegians are worthy filmmakers who take their stories seriously. With such titles as The Wave, The Quake, and The Tunnel being exceptional examples of disaster-type movies, this latest entry is a true edge-of-your-seat thrill ride.
The movie focuses on the Ormen Lange Oil Fields located on the northwest continental shelf of Norway. It’s here that hundreds of oil rigs are found, and the workers are always at risk, but thankfully nothing has happened as of yet. If you are familiar with the other Norwegian disaster movies, you’ll know that those films are inspired by potential real-life threats facing the human population. Although the movies themselves are more intense than real-life scenarios, it does make the viewer wonder if such an event could occur and what the response would be. These movies are made with a solemn point to remember and aren’t in the business of just making special effect-heavy movies to entertain their audiences.
Sure, the special effects in these movies are impressive, and at times, our jaws nearly hit the floor. Still, the movies are smart enough to engage the audience with solid character development and intelligent scripts. This time around, the film follows Sofia (Kristine Kujath Thorp), who works with robotics. Her company creates this interesting robotics that can squeeze into tight space to see what’s in front of them. Diving may be a risky option, especially when deep depths are concerned, but this robotic, which looks similar to a flukeworm, can do any job when the need arises. After a disaster is reported, Sofia and her colleague Arthur (Rolf Kristian Larsen) report to assist.
An oil rig has somehow sunk to the bottom of the Norwegian Sea, and there is a possibility that there may be survivors. Once Sofia and Arthur deploy their robotic to the wreckage, they are curious about what has caused this catastrophe. Sure enough, an oil rig is on the seabed, and there are survivors. It’s said that possible subsidence could’ve caused the rig’s collapse, but considering the stability of the rig itself and safety measures, this seems unlikely. We later learn that there is a serious problem, but it’s not related to the rig. Instead, this growing problem traces back to something called the Storegga Slide, a continental shelf that collapsed over eight thousand years ago. It appears now that the excessive drilling for oil and natural gas has caused a stir in the shelf, and now all oil rigs in the Ormen Lange Oil Fields are in danger of either collapse or destruction. This doesn’t consider the potential cost of human devastation and the environmental impact.
Director John Andreas Andersen (The Quake) does an impressive job are relaying the dangers and upping the suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed the time it took for the destruction scenes to unfold, and when they do, they are a spectacle to witness. When Sofia and Arthur see the potential danger sitting in front of them, an order is given to evacuate all workers from the oil rigs and shut down operations immediately. These sequences show many moments where workers attempt to flee from the dangers that they can’t see, nor do they know of the massive scale lurking just below their feet. I won’t reveal what happens moving forward, but if you are a fan of disaster flicks, you can probably guess what unfolds. I can guarantee you this; if you enjoy the other Norwegian films mentioned earlier, then you’ll get a kick out of this one.
Score 4 out of 5
The Burning Sea is a wonderful spectacle of special effects and authentic character development, all wrapped into an explosive package that makes you want to revisit it multiple times. The direction is well-established thanks to John Andreas Andersen, and the script, courtesy of Harald Rosenløw-Eeg and Lars Gudmestad, provides an engaging disaster flick that has more on its mind than colorful images that fill the screen. The Burning Sea is a glorious disaster flick that showcases the best special effects in a heartfelt human drama. If you enjoyed the previous films, you’ll enjoy this one too.